My wife proposed to me -- or maybe it was my idea. Honestly, I don't remember. Probably I just took the whole thing for granted and assumed that of course she'd marry me. Why would she not? So now we're in Fiji to celebrate a wedding anniversary -- one of the big ones -- and I've got something weighing on my mind. I've been thinking: If I asked her all over again, would she say yes? I'm not sure she would. I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that I have been a less-than-perfect husband.
Which is why I've hedged my bet with this trip to Vatulele, an island that's drenched in romance and dotted with romantic bures, from the white, two-story The Point house to the ultra-private -- and pink -- Grand Honeymoon bure. This theme even goes back to how this South Pacific island got its name. According to a Fijian legend, a dashing chief's son from nearby Viti Levu, laden with a special gift, paddled out to the island to propose to a beautiful Vatulele princess. But the princess rejected the chief's son. He returned home a broken man and spent the rest of his days staring forlornly out to sea at the rock that was as hard as the heart of its princess. Vatulele means "rock."
Like the princess' spurned suitor, I've come to Vatulele with a special gift: an antique diamond ring -- a rock -- displayed on my grandmother's hand for 65 years. It was a gift to her from my grandfather on their 25th anniversary and now is my inheritance. I've also carried, halfway around the world, a bottle of the champagne we had at our wedding, Nicolas Feuillatte, in honor of her hoped-for acceptance. Both ring and bottle are still in my suitcase. If ever there is a time to bring both gifts out, it is as we first walk into our beach bure, facing a calm lagoon the color of periwinkles. There, propped up on our bed, scattered with yellow plumeria and scarlet hibiscus flowers, is a hand- written note on tapa cloth: "Dear David and Jan, This resort is inspired by a story of love. May you find your own inspiration -- and love -- on Vatulele."
But by the time I even think about rooting through my luggage for the antique ring, Jan is off for a swim in the lagoon. Oh well. The next day, Sal, the guest-relations manager, arranges a private excursion for us to Nookie Nookie, a tiny island 15 minutes away by boat. There we swim in a surge pool made from a ring of volcanic rock and snooze in a palm-shaded hammock. As I watch Jan float on her back in the shallow water, I think about -- but do not get -- the ring stowed in a wooden box in my backpack. What am I waiting for?
Apparently our last night. That's when Sal plans a dinner for two on the beach in front of the thatch-covered dining pavilion. A handsome Fijian plays the guitar and quietly sings Fijian songs while we sip on Blue Lagoon cocktails -- vodka, blue curacao, fresh lime juice and a splash of lemon-lime soda. Dinner is fresh Vatulele lobster, washed down with the much-traveled Nicolas Feuillatte, an exquisite farmer fizz champagne that's Jan's favorite. The evening is warm. Small waves lapping at the beach are the rhythm to the guitarist's heart-breaking vocals. Jan, lit by candles and moonlight, looks as happy and contented as I've ever seen her. The island has worked its magic, and now it's time for me to take advantage of the spell over her.
With my heart pounding and my breath labored, I fumble in my shirt pocket and bring out the antique ring. Then I manage to reach across the table and, holding her cool left hand in my now clammy paws, finally pop the question: "Will you marry me -- again?" She smiles, grabs the champagne and pours us both a little more. "Of course," she says, raising her glass to mine. "Why would I not?"
Plan Your Trip
- Fly first to Nadi International Airport (NAN) on Fiji with Air Pacific. Then you can take the daily, 25-minute flight by Pacific Island Air to Vatulele (VTF). airpacific.com; fijiseaplanes.com
- Stay at the Vatulele Island Resort, which has 19 deluxe beach bures and two oversized villas, the Vale Viqi pink honeymoon bure and the Point, a two-story house. Aside from a handful of local villages, there's no other development on the island. sixsenses.com
- Try to make tapa cloth, one of the traditional arts in Polynesia. The cloth is actually pounded bark from the mulberry tree, and you can watch locals paint it with dye derived from various seeds and clay from the island. If you have a hankering to do it yourself, the resort will demonstrate the process and help you make bark cloth with your traveling companion so you can write tapa love letters to each other.
- Find more intimate escapes at islands.com/intimate.